Insights from Steve Pacheco

President & CEO, American Advertising Federation

Onward and Upward

My long time friend and colleague – John B. Osborn (a past AAF Board Chair, and a member of the AAF Board of Directors and Presidents Advisory Council) signs off all his emails with the line – “Onward and Upward.”  I always find this encouraging and inspiring – no matter what the topic at hand is or what we are focused on.

Now John is not the first person to encourage us to keep moving and strive for greatness – that goes way back….to the 1800’s…

This mid nineteenth century rallying cry was invoked by, among others, Frances Ann Kemble (1809–1893) in her Lines addressed to the Young Gentlemen leaving the Lenox Academy, Massachusetts: 

“Fail not for sorrow, falter not for sin, but onward, upward, till the goal ye win.”

Today it is sometimes used ironically, as in the New Yorker magazine’s title for comments on unwittingly amusing news: “Onward and Upward with the Arts.”

And if you look it up in a dictionary you will find this for “onward and upward”:

  1. Becoming increasingly successful; continuing to advance or make progress. After the immense success of his first book, it was all onward and upward for John’s writing career.
  2. Improving to a brighter, happier future, especially after some misfortune or unpleasant incident. I know you’re really disappointed with your result on the midterm, but hey, it’s onward and upward from here!

So, I’ll use this as a reminder that your best creative work from last year is destined for greatness—If you let it move on!  Onward and Upward.

That brings us to the American Advertising Awards…These Awards are the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting more than 25,000 entries every year in local AAF Ad Club competitions. The mission of the American Advertising Awards is to recognize and reward the creative spirit of excellence in the art of advertising from across North America.  And, you can gain recognition for your work by entering the American Advertising Awards, and starting your own Onward and Upward journey.

Conducted annually by the AAF, the local tier of the American Advertising Awards is the first of a three-tier, national competition.

Concurrently, across the country, local entrants vie to receive an ADDY Award—recognition as the very best in their markets. At the second tier, local ADDY winners compete against winners from other local clubs in one of 15 district competitions. District ADDY winners are then forwarded to the third tier, the national stage of the American Advertising Awards.

Entry in your local competition is the first step toward winning a national ADDY. Entering the American Advertising Awards supports the entire advertising industry, because the AAF and its local and district affiliates use the proceeds to enhance advertising through programs such as public service, internships, advocacy groups, advertising education, and consumer awareness.

Selection of the most creative entry in each category is affected by a scoring process in which a panel of judges evaluates all creative dimensions of every entry. A Gold ADDY is recognition of the highest level of creative excellence and is judged to be superior to all other entries in the category. Entries that are also considered outstanding and worthy of recognition receive a Silver ADDY.

So, once you win at the Local level you advance Onward to the Regional level.  Win there and you get to go Upward to the National competition. Win there and you punch your ticket to St. Louis and the National American Advertising Awards Gala set for Friday, June 2, at the Hyatt Regency – *The Arch.  (*which physically and metaphorically symbolizes “Onward and Upward”)

ADMERICA is the American Advertising Federation’s annual National Conference meant to enhance enthusiasm for the advertising industry and the leadership skills of our grass roots network. During this week-long event, attendees can expect some exceptional speakers, practical workshops and industry insight sessions designed to elevate each AAF Member’s personal and professional approach to excellence.

The AAF’s national conference connects all aspects of the advertising industry. Influential agencies, clients, media companies, suppliers, and college students from across the country will make their way to the middle of America – St. Louis – to address how best to thrive in today’s economy and how the changing culture of business and consumers is impacting our industry.

ADMERICA 2023 will explore the innovations made in the fields of advertising, marketing and communications through the use of social media, creative, digital, new business and mobile advertising. While attending ADMERICA, you can maximize your networking opportunities at the Welcome Reception; experience creative excellence at the American Advertising Awards Gala; honor our dedicated advertising chapter members and volunteers at the Salute to Achievers event and see our industry’s future as we watch our talented, collegiate members compete in the National Student Advertising Competition sponsored by Indeed.

Register for ADMERICA 2023 here:  AAF ADMERICA 2023 registration

So, it all starts with you—and your desire to be better – and get your work the recognition it deserves. Onward and Upward can be your mantra on your way to greatness if you embrace it.

Onward. And Upward.  See you in St. Louis.  We will have lots to celebrate.



AAF National News

Get In Touch

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.